I doubt that more than three of you remember them, but I don’t care. These candy pails, distributed by Mars back in ’89, meant the world to me. Even today, I look at them and see everything good about Halloween.
I can’t remember the specifics of the promotion, but it went something like this: Buy a bag of fun-sized Snickers (or Milky Way, or 3 Musketeers), and you’d go home with one of these glorious buckets. (In all likelihood, you had to buy three or more bags, but the details pale in importance to the end result: MONSTA BUCKETS.)
We’ve all reminisced about McDonald’s famous McBoo pails, and though they deserved every bit of our affections, these were an even cooler spin on the same idea. With pop-off lids and little ropey handles, kids trolled the neighborhood on Halloween night, stuffing their tricks and treats into eleven-inch plastic ghosts with Snickers stickers on them. Bottle that shit, because it was concentrated awesomesauce.
To the best of my recollection, I never went trick-or-treating with my Mars pails. I had all three – I remember that much distinctly – but I can only recall using them as bedroom décor, where they far outlasted their initial lots as mere “Halloween decorations.” I had these guys on display for years, filled with God knows what. Even after I’d lost their lids and scratched off their affiliated candy bar stickers, I still kept them out on my shelves, like they were something to be proud of.
Then again, maybe it isn’t so surprising that I never went trick-or-treating with ‘em. As a ten-year-old, I was free to be a kid, but there were some restrictions. Things construed as “toys” were still socially acceptable, but only if those toys were universally accepted by my peers. I remember plenty of kids bragging about their Ninja Turtles, but I never heard anyone flip over Tacky Stretchoid Warriors.
And I couldn’t have been the only one buying Tacky Stretchoid Warriors.
It was a fine line, and goofy Halloween monster pails definitely crossed it. I loved them, but I could only show that love in private. I hope my buckets never took it the wrong way. It wasn’t because they were ugly. God, they weren’t.
Below is a pail-by-pail introduction. Meet the buckets!
Pumpkin Bucket: If these pails had any corresponding TV commercial that might’ve helped me to identify them, I never saw it. But perhaps something so simple really didn’t need the press, since this is obviously a Pumpkin Bucket.
I take Pumpkin Bucket to be the leader of the trio. It can’t have anything to do with his totem candy, because I hate Milky Way bars. I think it’s just because he looks so sure of himself. He’s a pumpkin, he’s a bucket, he’s fine with it.
Besides, if we look at this historically, leaders were so often determined by a basic measure of physical strength. And Pumpkin Bucket’s hands look so much more muscular than Ghost or Goblin Bucket’s. You don’t get hands like that if you don’t train. Pumpkin Bucket is all smiles now, but don’t make him mad. Dude will Seismic Toss you into Christmas future.
Ghost Bucket: So few name Larry Fine as their favorite, but without him, there are no Stooges. Ghost Bucket is the Larry of this bunch. So easy to overlook, and yet, so integral.
Of course, Ghost Bucket only seems plain on a surface glance. Dig deeper, and his positive traits multiply into the dozens. Proving my point, I can only organize my thoughts on why Ghost Bucket rules by way of a bullet list:
* That screwy upward glance. One may argue that the other pails look vapid, but Ghost Bucket is an obvious thinker. He has a soul, and we’re seeing him use it.
* The mouth, which is clearly the gentle imprint of a child’s thumb. Let’s think about this. When plastic is going through the molding process, it’s very hot. Some dumb kid put his thumb into blazing hot plastic to form Ghost Bucket’s mouth. That child then died from his injuries, and in the sort of predestination paradox that made The Terminator such a sophisticated motion picture, saw his spirit reborn in the very same plastic ghost he’d just killed himself over. That’s fucking GREAT.
* His candy affiliation. SNICKERS. One of the all-time best. Only Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Peanut M&M’s could even attempt a claim of superiority. If we’re judging these buckets on candy stickers alone, Ghost Bucket wins so hard.
* The protruded cheeks, which afford Ghost Bucket an unlikely air of innocence. He was a Casper for all of the people who refused to accept Casper, and let’s face it, most of us refused to accept Casper. I don’t know why.
I could go on, but even with these fine attributes, Ghost Bucket is not my favorite of the trio. I saved the best for last…
Goblin Bucket: This is it. This is the one! I may have owned all three pails, but Goblin Bucket is the one I’ll never, ever forget.
This guy became my surrogate pet for a while, though I treated him more like a friend. I’m almost too embarrassed to admit this, but if you reviewed everything I said aloud from October-December of 1989, at least 50% of those things were directed at Goblin Bucket. From simple greetings to late night confessions, never before had a hunk of green plastic been spoken to so often, and about so much.
It was perhaps in reverence to this friendship that I kept Goblin Bucket for so much longer than the other pails. Even during the nastiest, messiest, most rapid bedroom cleanup session to satisfy the growing rage of my parents, never once did it occur to me to chuck Goblin Bucket.
Discounting these personal attachments, I think we can all agree that Goblin Bucket is king. More of a goblin/lizard hybrid than an out-and-out goblin, he was just so attractively bizarre. Lumpy head, piggish snout, toes as long as pretzel rods. All things being equal, I should not have wasted the bullet list gimmick on Ghost Bucket.
Also, Goblin Bucket was the only pail with an interesting backside:
See? A tail. A really wicked tail, akin to Satan’s. That’s gorge. Not gorge like a “small canyon,” but gorge like the Urban Dictionary definition. Short for “gorgeous.” (Also “ass crack,” but the 2nd definition for every word over there has something to do with asses.)
Ah, these pails. As I mentioned, they mean nothing to most of you. Absolutely nothing. And that’s okay. You were deprived, but that’s okay. We all have our tokens of times long expired, and these are some of mine. Hollow monsters that once held my broken crayons and stray LEGO pieces. I loved them then, I loved them now.